Ram Dass

Average: 4.1 (120 votes)
Fast Facts
Other Names and Nicknames: 
Dr. Richard Alpert, Baba Ram Dass
Spiritual Teacher
Bhakti Yoga, Buddhism, Karma Yoga, Sufism, Guru Kripa
Main Countries of Activity: 
Date of Birth: 
April 6, 1931
Place of Birth: 
Newton, Massachusetts, USA
In His/Her Body ("alive"): 
Date Left His/Her Body: 
Ancestor Gurus: 
Other Related Gurus: 
Krishna Das


Richard Alpert was born in 1931, the son of a wealthy lawyer who was the founder of Brandeis University. Alpert studied psychology and earned an M.A. from Wesleyan and a Ph.D. from Stanford.

From 1958 to 1963, he taught and conducted research at the Department of Social Relations and the Graduate School of Education at Harvard University.

While at Harvard, Alpert's explorations of human consciousness led him to conduct intensive research with LSD and other psychedelic elements, in collaboration with Timothy Leary, Aldous Huxley, Allen Ginsberg, and others. Because of the controversial nature of this research, both he and Leary were dismissed from Harvard in 1963.

In 1967 he traveled to India where he met the spiritual teacher, Neem Karoli Baba. Under his guru's guidance, he studied yoga and meditation and received the name Ram Dass, or "servant of God." Since 1968, he has pursued a variety of spiritual practices, including Hinduism, Karma Yoga and Sufism. His book Be Here Now brought him further into the public eye in 1971.

In 1974, Ram Dass created the Hanuman Foundation, which has developed many projects, including the "Prison-Ashram Project," designed to help inmates grow spiritually during incarceration, and the "Living/ Dying Project" which provides support for conscious dying. He is also a co-founder and board member of the Seva Foundation ("service" in Sanskrit), an international organization dedicated to relieving suffering in the world.

In 1997, Ram Dass suffered a stroke which paralyzed the right side of his body and significantly affected his ability to speak. Despite this challenge, he continues to teach, write and lecture.


It is hard to define Ram Dass exact teachings. He has embraced a wide variety of spiritual traditions and practices, including guru kripa (grace of the guru); bhakti yoga focused on the Hindu spiritual deva Hanuman; meditation in various schools of Buddhism such as Theravada and Mahayana (including Tibetan and Zen); karma yoga; and Sufi and Jewish studies.



Following a stroke in 1997 and a life-threatening infection in 2004, Ram Dass now resides on Maui using the Internet as the main vehicle for to share his being in online satsangs.

Online Satsangs
Satsang Place

Ram Dass's online satsang includes Monthly Live Streaming Satsang with Ram Dass (live via webcast), Heart-to-Heart (one-on-one) Webcam conversations with Ram Dass, Historical and current Video and Audio archives via on-demand streaming, Meditations guided by Ram Dass, Shared Experiences: Anecdotes from satsang members about how Ram Dass or Maharaji have affected their lives, Daily Words of Wisdom.

Center for Spiritual Studies
57361 Hillcrest Drive,
Yucca Valley, CA 92284, USA
(760) 228-1717 (voicemail)
Prior subscription is required.
Prices and Fees: 
In order to support the continuation of the teachings, registrants are asked to subscribe for $108 per year, $9 per month, or an amount that feels right from "Other" category. The money will go to the Center for Spiritual Studies for Ram Dass' teachings and support.

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Books & Media

Recommended Books: 
Cover image

Journey of Awakening: A Meditator's Guidebook

by Ram Dass

(Mass Market Paperback)

Find the practice that’s right for you with this exploration of the many paths of meditation—from mantra, prayer, singing, visualizations, and “just sitting” to movement meditations such as tai chi
“Everyone has experienced a moment of pure awareness. A moment without thinking ‘I am aware’ or ‘that is a tree.’ Such moments bring a sense of rightness, of clarity, of being at one. Such moments are the essence of meditation.”—Ram Dass
Ram Dass is an American psychologist and spiritual teacher who has studied and practiced meditation for many years. Here he shares his understanding and suggests how you can find methods suitable for you. He illuminates the stages and benefits of meditative practice, and provides wise and often humorous advice on overcoming difficulties along the way.

Cover image

Be Here Now

by Ram Dass


“We’re talking about metamorphosis
We’re talking about going from a caterpillar to a butterfly
We’re talking about how to become a butterfly.”
In March 1961, Professor Richard Alpert – later renamed Ram Dass – held appointments in four departments at Harvard University. He published books, drove a Mercedes and regularly vacationed in the Caribbean. By most societal standards, he had achieved great success... And yet he couldn’t escape the feeling that something was missing. 
Psilocybin and LSD changed that. During a period of experimentation, Alpert peeled away each layer of his identity, disassociating from himself as a professor, a social cosmopolite, and lastly, as a physical being. Fear turned into exaltation upon the realization that at his truest, he was just his inner-self: a luminous being that he could trust indefinitely and love infinitely.

And thus, a spiritual journey commenced. Alpert headed to India where his guru renamed him Baba Ram Dass – “servant of God.” He was introduced to mindful breathing exercises, hatha yoga, and Eastern philosophy. If he found himself reminiscing or planning, he was reminded to “Be Here Now.He started upon the path of enlightenment, and has been journeying along it ever since.

Be Here Now is a vehicle for sharing the true message, and a guide to self-determination.

With over 150 pages of metaphysical illustrations, practical advice on how to implement a yogic regiment, and a chapter dedicated to quotes and book recommendations, Be Here Now is sure to enrich your emotional, physical, and spiritual life.

Recommended DVD & Video: 
Cover image

Open to the Infinite: Live at the Inner Directions Gathering


After a major stroke, Ram Dass returns with a vibrant joy and deepened wisdom, resulting from a profound encounter with Silence. In this video, he joins with singer Krishna Das for a very special presentation. This remarkable event is like a circle: Ram Dass speaks about his stroke as an act of grace, and about the profound gift of silence he has been given, while the melodious chanting of Krishna Das carries the words home to the heart. This is an inspiring video, which demonstrates that the silence of Spirit and the eternal chant of India both emanate from the same source.

Cover image

Ram Dass: Fierce Grace


Harvard professors Richard Alpert and Timothy Leary made countercultural history in 1963 when they were fired from that institution for conducting controversial psychedelic drug research. In the purple haze aftermath, Alpert journeyed to India and found his guru Maharaj ji, who renamed him Ram Dass (\"Servant of God\"). Best known for his 1971 bestseller BE HERE NOW, which was a spiritual touchstone of the era, Ram Dass became an inspiration to people across the globe. Filmmaker Mickey Lemle--who has known his subject for more than twenty-five years--intersperses vivid archival footage from hippiedom\'s glory days with intimate glimpses of Ram Dass today, as he continues to remake his life since being--in his words--\"stroked\" in 1997. Named by NEWSWEEK as one of the Top Five Non-Fiction Films of 2002, RAM DASS FIERCE GRACE is an engrossing, poignant meditation on spirituality, consciousness, healing and the unexpected grace of aging.

Recommended Audio: 
Cover image

Here We All Are

by Ram Dass

(Audio CD)

    Telling his story in “three chapters,” Ram Dass explains how he moved from the structured academic world to wide-open experiences with psychedelics (and Timothy Leary). This thirst for knowledge led him to India, where he encountered a man who taught him to “just be here now.”
    Ram Dass shares with us how we can all attain a state of well-being. The result is that we’ll become more centered, and we’ll learn to see the God in each other, which ultimately leads to an overwhelming sense of oneness with, and love for, our fellow humans.
    As Ram Dass says, “We’re all the same . . . and here we all are.”
Includes the bonus CD, Be Here Now, which features music from

Cover image

A Spiritual Journey

by Ram Dass

(Audio CD)

Two classic audio programs from one of the world’s most influential contemporary spiritual teachers, now available in one volume on cd

In Part One: Finding and Exploring your Spiritual Path, Ram Dass speaks from the heart with wisdom gained from a lifetime spent on the path to enlightenment about the often rocky yet profoundly transforming road to living the spiritual life. With personal anecdotes and commentary, he illuminates a wide variety of ancient and contemporary philosophies, drawing from such sources as the Buddha, Russian philosopher Gurdjieff, Mahatma Ghandi, and many others. Here is down-to-earth advice for those on the path to spiritual fulfillment, the pleasures and pitfalls you will encounter en route, the value and potential dangers of teachers and gurus, and the importance of following your intuitive heart.In Part Two: Journey of Awakening, Ram Dass focuses on the moments crucial to the serious seeker of the spiritual path. Meditation is an essential part of that practice. Why meditate? To live in the moment. To dwell in the harmony of things. To awaken. Those moments in your life when there is an openness, a spacious quality to your existence —those are the moments that truly make life remarkable.

Pro Opinions

The Sweetest Man

Leelo11's picture

I really don't know if Ram Das is a bona fide guru. He's probably not one on the level of Ramana Maharsh.

yes, yes, a thousand times yes

Ammi's picture

the first time i saw him speak, i didn't even know who he was, but i was profoundly affected. i enjoyed an opportunity to hug the man & was floating on bliss for hours.

Con Opinions



May be good preacher but difficult to understand Him as guru. His work regarding prison project with the view of improving the prisoners. Other social works are also praiseworthy.